While falling gas prices have temporarily halted years of gains in the number of bicycle commuters, more and more of us are using the bicycle to get around. It’s economical, provides good exercise, and is much cheaper than owning a car. But unless you’re in really good shape, you aren’t going to get very far. Enter the electric bike: a glorious new contraption allows us to get around without having to worry about arriving at our destinations a sweaty mess.
Even the humble bicycle hasn't escaped the clutches of modern technology. A whole herd of new e-bikes with electric motors are taking to our cities' streets. Adding a motor to a standard cycle does ramp up the price significantly, but it takes much of the effort out of cycling, making your commute to the office a sweat-free experience and allowing you to sit back and enjoy your suburban cruise.
Electric bikes are a green alternative to driving a vehicle. Studies carried out in several towns and cities show that the average car speed in rush hour traffic can dip as low as 18 to 20 mph. Electric bike speed can be as high as 15 mph. With an electric bike, you can reduce pollution, improve fitness, and still arrive at the same time as your car-bound colleagues.
Bicycle shall mean (1) every device propelled solely by human power, upon which any person may ride, and having two tandem wheels either of which is more than fourteen inches in diameter or (2) a device with two or three wheels, fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, and an electric motor with a capacity not exceeding seven hundred fifty watts which produces no more than one brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the bicycle at a maximum design speed of no more than twenty miles per hour on level ground.
Some of the Rad Wagon’s (small) flaws became apparent once I added more weight to the bike. The integrated rear rack can attach various panniers, platforms, or baskets to cary your cargo, but I was most concerned with hauling my two kiddos to school. Riding the bike with my three year old was a cinch; he held on to the bars in the caboose (available as an accessory add-on) and enjoyed the view. Adding my very tall, almost seven-year-old daughter, however, was a bit more complicated.
The days when eMTBs were defined solely by the power of their motors and the size of their batteries are over. Riding performance has become the most important metric. In that pursuit, manufacturers are increasingly developing eMTBs with less power and battery capacity, which in turn handle more like regular mountain bikes. FOCUS started this movement some time ago with its Project-Y concept and later presented the FOCUS RAVEN² PRO, the first production model in a new category of bikes. However this sporty ride only convinced a handful of riders. Meanwhile, Lapierre and BULLS have both announced full-suspension trail bikes featuring the lightweight FAZUA motor for next year. It remains to be seen how many other brands will jump on board this bandwagon – but the rumour mill has already started rumbling. Moreover, it is only a matter of time before the next motor manufacturer will release its own small, lightweight motor.
Electric bikes are becoming a convenient and fun way to commute around a city, but they can be pricey. The average e-bike can cost $3,000, with some models getting up to $5,000 or more. But these prices are dropping, as new models come onto the market — and if you don’t mind giving up some of the glossier, high-tech features like embedded digital displays, retractable cable locks, and and theft tracking and recovery, you can find a really good quality e-bike for under $1,500.